108 Firehall – July 2017

108 Volunteer Fire Department

We are very grateful for our local firefighters and first responders. They are definitely the very heart and soul of our community.  At the moment they are 17-19 strong, which is short of the needed 25. So, if you are interested or know of someone who can get involved, please just show up at the Fire hall on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. You will be very welcome and will join an enthusiastic and dedicated team.

These are the people who respond when you hear that siren go off at the 108. Once an emergency call from our area has been made to 911, our team are notified and go to the Fire Hall to prepare to handle the problem. It might be an MVI (motor vehicle incident), a medical problem or a fire issue.  The 108 Highway callout area is from approximately the Lac La Hache Transfer Station south to Tatton Road.

At the RCA’s October 29, 2022 Annual General Meeting, Jason Parchomchuk reported on behalf of the Department that call volumes are increasing, with medical calls the most prevalent. Weekends are the busiest time. Membership is holding steady in the department, with 20 active members. Ten of those are trained as first responders while four are undergoing training. The department received a new incident command truck from Enbridge and will receive a Lucas 3 chest compression device on a short-term loan. The mobile unit, which is secured around the patient’s body, is equipped with a pump capable of 102 compressions per minute. The department has applied for grants for firefighting equipment.

Chris Haddad was elected as the new Fire Chief of the 108 Volunteer Fire Department for a three year term effective April 1, 2019.  Thank you Chris and thank you Chief Ian Henderson who agreed to complete the term of former Fire Chief Marcel Reid who moved from the area last fall.

We were lucky to have Ian Henderson as temporary Fire Chief until April.  He is very familiar with the job as he was our former chief for many years. We are also very thankful to our retired chief Marcel Reid and his wife Marsha, who saw us through the wildfires of 2017. Marcel and his wife have recently moved from the 108.

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One thing you could always get people to agree on was the need for fire protection in our community. That was especially true back in 1970 when wood heat and chimney fires were much more common. In those first years, if you had a fire you called the Block Bros. Sales Office and a makeshift crew of local volunteers would be summoned by a siren and telephone. They would show up in their pickups, with shovels and buckets and try to help. The need for a fire hall with firefighting equipment was obvious to everyone. By December 1970 there were about 700 lots sold and almost 75 homes or cabins built. The community was still very small, but everyone was supportive and engaged in this effort to create an effective fire department. It was a time of bake sales, bingo, dances, and other fundraisers to support a new fire department.

In April 1971, plans were under way to have water tank truck standing by at all times, along with hoses and some other fire suppression tools. By mid-1972 there were almost 300 buildings at the 108, including the motel and several stores. While planning had long been under way, the decision was taken by the 108 Council to get started. The 108 Volunteer Fire Department was officially formed in June and at that time had at its disposal one modified flat deck truck as well as Block Bros.’ tank truck. It was time to build a hall and buy the used fire truck Fire Chief Karl Lysell had been looking at. Block Bros. provided the land on Easzee Drive as well as another $3,000 worth of equipment. Olaf Hansen of 108 Supply was providing building materials at cost. There were many, many local volunteers who put in long hours to bring the 108 Fire Hall into being. The cost of construction for the original 1,000 square foot Hall was under $10,000.

We have had some memorable fire here at the 108 over the last few years. Two large fires at the 108 Resort, apparently arson related, happened in 2009 and 2010.

The wildfires of the summer of 2017 were of historical proportions for the South Cariboo region. We became aware of the first fire in the morning of July 6th when a fire was detected near the OSB plant NE of 100 Mile House.  A small tower of smoke became visible and the call went out to neighbouring fire halls for mutual aid.  It was busy on Watson Lake as choppers and skimmers buzzed around loading water to fight the incoming fire. But the winds grew the fire quickly and before the night was over the fire had grown to over 500 hectares. The next day around noon, the order to evacuate the 108 was delivered. Later that day the fire arrived, and two homes were lost on Block Drive. The tireless 108 fire department, plus a fortuitous wind change saved our community from disaster. To get a full story of the Gustafsen and Elephant Hill fires, check out the 100 Mile Free Press 2017 Fire Supplement.